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Thread: Is Plastic Shelving Safe for Fabrics?

  1. #1
    Power Poster Mousie's Avatar
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    I know that unpainted wood has acids that can mess fabrics up over time, but not up to painting right now.
    Thought if the plastic shelving was safe, I would trade places with stuff until I feel like swinging a paint brush :mrgreen:
    What say you, lol?

  2. #2
    Super Member jrhboxers's Avatar
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    Find some acid-free cardboard - usually available from the places that do needlework - and use that on the shelf before you stack your fabric. That will provide a buffer from the plastic. HTH

  3. #3
    Super Member donnajean's Avatar
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    I put cardboard on the shelf 1st, but don't think it's acid free - just think it's safer than the shelving.

  4. #4
    Super Member mrspete's Avatar
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    Good question, I'll be watching for all the answers. My vote is plastic is safer, but what do I know? Chemistry, I don't even know how to spell it.

    Blessings,
    Ruth

  5. #5
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    i hope its safe, been using it for years.
    i have never had any unfortunate issues with the fabrics stacked on plastic shelves other than when they collapse because i think tons of fabric should fit anywhere. but the wooden shelves fell apart sooner than the plastic ones. i have had plastic shelving units for fabrics for about 15 years...no damage to any fabrics.

  6. #6
    Senior Member OdessaQuilts's Avatar
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    I read somewhere that the plastic bins are safe for storing fabrics, so I would think that if the shelves are made of the same type of plastic material, they'd be safe, too.

    But a couple sheets of acid-free tissue paper between the shelf and the fabric likely wouldn't hurt, either.

    Hi Mousie!

    Odessa

  7. #7
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    You spelled chemistry just fine. I'm not a conservator but I am a chemist so I can at least spell it. Most plastics are very stable. A very few will outgas at higher temperatures. I can't think of any time that a painted shelf would be preferable unless the fabric is encased inside some sort of barrier. I think the issue with plastic was the fact that plastic bags don't "breathe" and molds can form inside in high humidity climate/areas.

    I hope some quilt conservators will chime in and give you their $0.02 worth.

  8. #8
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    you do want your fabric to be able to 'breath' and not enclose it in plastic (like storing a quilt in a plastic bag...BIG NO-NO) if it is open to air, like shelves it should be fine, but enclosed in a plastic bag or even a tote with a lid can be disasterous if you have any humidity. moisture gets in and mildew grows :(

  9. #9
    Power Poster Mousie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ckcowl
    i hope its safe, been using it for years.
    i have never had any unfortunate issues with the fabrics stacked on plastic shelves other than when they collapse because i think tons of fabric should fit anywhere. but the wooden shelves fell apart sooner than the plastic ones. i have had plastic shelving units for fabrics for about 15 years...no damage to any fabrics.
    You make a very good point about weight.
    My DD just showed me a place in my sewing cave where you can feel the floor joist through the linoleum bc my sewing furniture has gotten so heavy with stuff! :shock:
    I'm pondering all the suggestions here and appreciate each and every one.
    I had trouble getting back to this thread bc of pc problems.
    Hope we are all fixed up now :XD:

  10. #10
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    Plastic shelves are fine for fabric storage. I was told by an appraiser (Gerald Roy) that it was quite safe to store my great-grandmother's quilts in plastic bins as long as they are not air tight. The quilts are wrapped in sheets to prevent creasing, but fabric on a shelf would not need to be.

  11. #11
    Super Member ube quilting's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mousie
    I know that unpainted wood has acids that can mess fabrics up over time, but not up to painting right now.
    Thought if the plastic shelving was safe, I would trade places with stuff until I feel like swinging a paint brush :mrgreen:
    What say you, lol?
    I line my shelves with batting including the sides.

  12. #12

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    I have to disagree somewhat about plastic shelving. Most of the time, for most fabrics, it will be fine. However, some fabrics, especially hand-dyed fabrics, can change color when in prolonged contact with plastics. This happens because of the VOC's (just a fancy term for the gases that slowly leach out of plastics) that are in plastics in small amounts. If you want to use plastic shelving, try making sure that the area is well ventilated, and that you use a nice, thick barrier between the fabric and the shelf - like the acid-free cardboard suggested here, or a few layers of acid-free tissue paper. How do I know this? Aside from being a chemist, I had some fabric change color on me where it was stored in contact with plastic. One section of a folded fat quarter that was supposed to be purple is now orange. 18"x22" of purple, with a big orange rectangle in the middle! I avoid plastic now whenever possible.

  13. #13
    Super Member Theresa's Avatar
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    I store strings, salvages and crumbs in zippered plastic "bags." Always leave the zipper open about 3" to let the fabric "breathe"...or am I letting the plastic "breathe"?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ckcowl
    i hope its safe, been using it for years.
    i have never had any unfortunate issues with the fabrics stacked on plastic shelves other than when they collapse because i think tons of fabric should fit anywhere. but the wooden shelves fell apart sooner than the plastic ones. i have had plastic shelving units for fabrics for about 15 years...no damage to any fabrics.

    exactly!

  15. #15
    Power Poster Mousie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ube quilting
    Quote Originally Posted by Mousie
    I know that unpainted wood has acids that can mess fabrics up over time, but not up to painting right now.
    Thought if the plastic shelving was safe, I would trade places with stuff until I feel like swinging a paint brush :mrgreen:
    What say you, lol?
    I line my shelves with batting including the sides.
    I'm seriously considering something like this. I don't want to remove all the wooden shelves, bc my hubby built them for me, and they are great.

  16. #16
    Power Poster Mousie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theresa
    I store strings, salvages and crumbs in zippered plastic "bags." Always leave the zipper open about 3" to let the fabric "breathe"...or am I letting the plastic "breathe"?
    lol...that's a good question. :D

  17. #17
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    Great idea on the batting. Thanks. I always have pieces like that available from quilting. Until now, I always put my "ugly" fabric spread on the bottom. If it survives, great. If not, no loss. LOL

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